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T.J.’s Notebook: 2017 Brad Doty Classic a Story of Perseverance

David Gravel’s march to the front at the end of the Brad Doty Classic. (Mike Campbell photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

The 29th Brad Doty Classic Tuesday night at Attica Raceway Park had stories of perseverance from race officials to the race winner.

David Gravel’s victory at the Doty ended an eventful night for the native of Watertown, CT. After contesting the most intense heat race of the night going back and forth with Lee Jacobs before taking the lead in that event on the white flag lap, Gravels’ surge over the final five laps will be filed away with other memorable late race heroics in Doty Classic history.

One wouldn’t think a driver with nine wins this season on the World of Outlaws circuit leading into Attica would be struggling. When Gravel explained what the team did to end their slide, it was mirrored things other drivers have said over about going back to basics.

“We had some bad nights. We let Deer Creek slip away from us, we had to put a new car together because we crashed the week before. Just had some mishaps with the new car. We put that behind us. We were good at Knoxville when we went there and we were strong at Cedar Lake. We’re just missing it a little bit, but every night is a new night. We’ve been trying to take things out of the equation. We change small things as we’ve been racing and trying to weed those out and make sure they were not the problem. We’ve done a pretty good job of simplifying what we’re doing, and it worked tonight.”

Gravel had equaled his longest winless streak since his first victory in March at Tulare. Tuesday put Gravel into double digit World of Outlaws victorious for the season.

“It pays the same, but the prestige is very high,’ said Gravel. “58 cars, it will probably be the biggest sprint car count of the year. It’s one of those things that it feels good. Any Outlaw win feels good, and they are not easy to get. I won nine and it feels like I haven’t won one in forever. To get double digits in one year is cool. “

The other perseverance story came from the officials at Attica Raceway Park. Monday the track received over two and a half inches of rain less than 24 hours before the gates were scheduled to open. Track officials pumped out the water and had the facility in such good condition that Monday’s rainfall was virtually unnoticeable.

Overall Tuedsay’s Doty Classic was the highly enjoyable experience I’ve always expected since the first time I walked in the gates at Attica Raceway Park in 1990. Attica promoter John Bores and general manager Rex LeJeune should be proud of how well their staff performs on a weekly basis.

Notes

  • The World of Outlaws has returned to awarding points for provisional starters. Provisionals are something debated a lot among various people we know in the industry. One could find good arguments for and against the practice on Tuesday’s Doty classic.Jason Johnson and Brad Sweet both took provisionals to start Tuesday’s feature event. By the end of the night Johnson caused two caution flags and two reds after getting upside down on two occasions, one of which in the feature when the leaders were on the verge of entering slower traffic. Sweet charged from 25th to fourth, earning hard charger honors.
  • The weekly competitors are part of why the Brad Doty Classic field is often one of the largest and most talented in sprint car racing. Tuesday was a struggle for the Attica faithful though as Lee Jacobs was the highest-ranking driver in Attica’s 410 points to make the program, currently 11th in their standings.Veteran driver Byron Reed was carrying most of the hopes for the Attica regulars until he clipped a maker tire on a restart and knocked the front end of the car. Reed then was involved in an incident during the B-Main and was unable to transfer.Former All Star Circuit of Champions competitor and Ohio resident Andrew Palker, who is racing regionally this season, was the top non-touring Ohio driver in 11th and was impressive the entire evening.
  • Several of the top competitors with the World of Outlaws circuit also had their struggles at Attica. Besides the previously mentioned struggles for Johnson and Shark Racing drivers Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen fell out of the C and B mains respectively with mechanical issues while Ohio resident Greg Wilson also missed the feature event.If it is any consolation for those teams one year ago Shane Stewart and Gravel were drivers that missed out on making the feature at the Brad Doty Classic, this year Gravel won and Stewart made the dash and finished 9th.
  • Washington State visitor Taylor Malsam made the trip to Attica Raceway Park for the Doty Classic on Tuesday, making the feature. Malsam revealed that the team plans on going on the three-day weekend of racing with the Intestate Racing Association in Illinois and Wisconsin rather than attending the Kings Royal.
  • Dale Blaney made his first start of the season in the Mertz/Jenkins 55 car. Blaney won his heat race and finished 19th in the feature event. Blaney will be driving for the team at the Kings Royal.
  • Rob Chaney made another start for CH Motorsports at the Brad Doty Classic and will be driving for that team during Kings Royal weekend.